03 Dec

DIY Shell Christmas Tree

DIY shell tree

Brrr! Have you been outside today? Yowza – my morning curb surfing activities weren’t much fun since it’s well below freezing here in my neck o’ the woods. Do you have any idea how hard it is to unscrew hardware bolts with frozen fingers? (and my gloves weren’t much help) This is about the time folks around here start making plans to head south to warmer climates.

Us? We’re getting ready for a trip to Denver. Go figure.

Anyhow – in light of the frigid temps I’ve got a special treat for ya’ll today. Give a warm (get it?) welcome to my pal, Alyson. (Hi Alyson!) She talks her own kinda trash over at The Shitastrophy. I’ll warn you though – she tells it like it is so put your big girl panties on before clicking through (then make sure you have a second pair handy because you’re sure to need a spare once you get to reading the shit she writes.) Oh, I took the liberty of censoring the first F-bomb she tossed out. The rest is full-on Alyson so consider yourself warned! Continue reading

29 Jul

DIY Mantle Mirror Wreath

DIY Oversized Wicker Mirror

Remember when I built up and painted the wall over the fireplace & mantle? Well, I’m happy to say that it is now completely complete. And by that I mean when I sit across the room staring at the fireplace wall, I no longer frown and wonder what the heck else needs to be done for it to be perfect.

See? It’s great right? I know.

DIY wicker mirror

That large, wicker circle thingy in the center came from GoodWill ($1.99). When I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it but I didn’t know what it had been in its previous life. I spent hours googling ‘large wood charger’, ‘huge wicker circle’, ‘stupid round bamboo job’ until the kid set me straight. He took a 3-second glance in my direction and informed me that it was the lid to a laundry basket (duh!) and sure enough, Google concurred.

So if you have one of these already (the basket lid, not the snarky teenage son) you can save yourself $2 bucks and a trip to the thrift.

wicker basket lid

The center circle was held in with a few wicker sticks that were easily removed before shooting it up with white spray paint. The plan was to doctor it up to resemble the crazy expensive pieces found at high-end home interior stores. I already had a round mirror to mount from behind.

Now, before you break out the glue let me warn you – E600 isn’t going to work on a project like this. So, you have to be creative and resort to the stack of “Do not discard under any circumstance” crap you’ve got hiding in your closet, in the garage or in the basement. Upon searching my pile I found an (empty, thank goodness) old Christmas popcorn tin.

popcorn tin

And wouldn’t you know, that 10″ mirror (HobLob $3.99 – don’t forget your 40% off coupon) fit perfectly on top of it. (Here’s where you can use the glue.)

tin lid mirror

Using a 3/4″ drill bit, I drilled tiny holes into the lip of the tin lid and threaded fishing line through then wove the line in and out over the wicker to secure the two pieces together. It wasn’t pretty but it’s clear so who cares? Exactly.

Bonus: The lip stuck out from the finished piece just enough to rest on a 3M Command Hook. Score! Now, the mantle looks every bit as posh as the ones you see on designer blogs and in magazines but I have plenty of cash left over for a latte. Which I am definitely going to need if my corner office shelves are ever going to be finished.

Seriously, this DIY stuff is never-ending.

14 Jul

How to Dress Up Boring Flower Pots

stocking cap planter

When you live in a place that has cold weather 8 out of 12 months you spend a lot of time putting on and taking off layers of clothes. Your hall closets are overrun with jackets, boots, gloves and hats. Shades of grey monopolize the landscape so savvy clothing designers temper the chill with bright pops of color. Outerwear in pinks and greens and oranges tease Midwestern folk with notions of warmer weather to come. By mid-March, we are drunk on the idea of summertime and all but begging the weatherman to issue 95-degree daily temps without regard to the heat index.

knit hats

Once the warm weather hits, the clothes are thrown on the floor and outside we go. Since I’m about as lazy of a decorator as you’ll find, I’m not about to sweat the way my house looks for one season out of the year. Seriously, what’s the point when A) summer lasts all of 42 days and B) no one is inside to appreciate it anyhow? Exactly.

So when I came across a huge bin of brightly crocheted stocking caps at St. Vincent De Paul last winter I had a brilliant idea. Somewhere in my psyche it resonated that a kid’s head was about the same size as the average flower pot, give or take, so I grabbed a few and tossed them in the front closet. Yesterday, I pulled them out along with a few nondescript wicker planters and solid colored vases I had stashed away, too.

basic planters

In less time than it took to select a few hard-to-kill plants at the local garden center, I created warm-weather-friendly flower pot cozies. And while the fun pops of color are pretty, what makes them so great is they are intended for snow and rain so it’s totally okay to over water – the yarn will soak it right up! Plus, I don’t have to worry about scratching the top of my freshly painted bookcase.

plant cozies

If you’re handy with crochet hook and yarn you could whip them out yourself. Otherwise, check your local thrift store. Or, better yet, scope out your front hall closet – chances are you’ve already got a few laying around.

stocking cap planter

And seriously, aren’t they much cuter on my plants than some kid’s noggin? Speaking of needing some more color, where did I put that swimming suit…

08 May

Smell the flowers: An exercise in patience

bridal bouquet

Yesterday, I decided to do something with the bushel of flowers laying on the dining room table. When I saw them at the hardware store, I broke my ‘no retail’ decorating rule and scooped them up. They were clearanced out at 75% so I justified tossing them into the cart. That was over a month ago. And while I have been down with the sick lately that’s not why I was slacking. I picked up the perfect vase at Goodwill (for $0.99!) a few weeks back and my plan was to put them up on the fireplace mantle. Remember that disaster? Well it made a killer comeback from the infamous chalk paint fail so what the heck was I waiting for?

Truth is, I was scared.

I had never attempted to put together a floral arrangement from start to finish. Sure, I’ve doctored up half-assed faux flower jobs, pruning and shaping them to my liking. I even got crafty and swapped out the rose heads in my wedding bouquet after my online order wasn’t quite as described.

bridal bouquet

Annuals and perennials don’t intimidate me in the least but something about these delicate wood-stemmed, styrofoam buds made me sweat. So, I did what any grown woman would do and avoided them. But yesterday I got brave. Camped out on the living room floor, half listening to Wendy dish the Hollywood gossip I cut all the individual stems down. Then, I cut them in half doubling the amount of flowers I had to work with. The vase had a bit of residual foam and newspaper from it’s previous owner so I worked with that. I plugged along sticking and poking until I had this beauty as the first pass.

DIY Flowers – Take 1

flowers take 1

Not bad right?? I was so excited I immediately uploaded it to Facebook for the world to see. Deb, a friend of mine from blogland (though, next month I get to meet her in real life!) offered up some tips to make my awesome arrangement even better. I debated for a bit before sucking up my pride and completely disassembling my masterpiece.

Now, normally I don’t take instruction well. And, truth be told I’m not one to care what other people think especially when it comes to something I’ve created for my own purposes. It could have had something to do with the ego strokes that preceded her constructive critiques but probably not. We already know what happens when I try to follow directions so the only obvious conclusion to make from all this hooha is that I was overmedicated and high. I mean, why else would I be trying to produce a frou-frou floral arrangement in the first place? Exactly.

For the sake of time I’ll link out to her informal instructions and resort to a photo of my second {failed} attempt.

DIY Flowers – Take 2

flowers take 2

Okay. So this was proving harder than I planned. I blamed my discontent on bad photos and poor lighting and called it a night. But today, I was right back at it determined to get this damn thing right. And, while I don’t think I played by Deb’s official flower arranging rules I’m pretty happy with the final result. I’m happy enough to be done anyway.

DIY Flowers: Final Cut

final cut

I’m entirely too exhausted to care much about how the rest of the mantle looks so it will just have to do for now.

full mantle

But before you tell me how great it looks and how proud (some of you – Evey) are of me for branching out (see what I did there?) and playing with more than power tools let me show you what it *really* looks like.

Real Life: Take 3,783,401

Fireplace Mess

I think it’s a safe bet that since I DIY’ed my own flower bouquet the kid and hubs can get by with a card and a cold case of beer this Sunday. I’m going to need it. Happy Mother’s Day! {check out how Deb’s decorating for the holiday!}

05 Apr

Upcycled Window Well Photo Frame

DIY Window Frame

On a prescription refill trip, I pulled into the hospital parking lot just as a slight drizzle transitioned to steady down pour. In the stall ahead of me sat a full-sized pickup with junk piled up in the truck bed. Peeking out from underneath a door slab I spied the corner of something wooden and white and destined for salvage. Being the law-abiding citizen I am, rather than pick through a stranger’s soggy castoffs I continued in to the pharmacy. On the way out the kid noted that the truck and it’s treasure trove were still there, idling with someone behind the wheel.

I tried not to scare the guy as I snuck up to the driver’s door and rapped on the window. “Are you taking this stuff to the dump?” I asked and with a slight raise of his brow was given the go ahead to grab the big white thingy sticking out of the back. I shook off the rain, threw it in the car, fist pumped the air and headed home to clean up my score.

window well frame

Driving home, I caught myself wondering what else I could have rescued from the back of that truck and silently kicked myself for not digging around a bit more.

This old window well measured 27″ x 27″ and was in great shape. I didn’t even have to paint it after a bit of soapy water clean up. For $12 the folks at Ace Hardware cut some glass to size and I added an inset of left over quarter round before gluing the glass in place. {you’ll see why later}

I picked up a piece of 1/4″ birch (24″ x 24″) plywood to use as a matte / back for the shadowbox frame.

painted back

I was in the garage with the tunes rocking and chugged a few cold ones while channeling my inner graffiti artist. I have no idea how poop brown latex paint gave way to an awesome deep blue hue but I’m taking complete credit for {and never attempting to replicate} this masterpiece.

Now, I’m one of those people who loves to take pictures and has a nice camera at my disposal. I am not, however, the kinda person who actually gets any of the photos printed out or displays them anywhere outside of Facebook. So, I thought it might be a nice touch to have a memento the kid snapped during a recent family vaca out West blown up and showcased on a main living room wall.

hand in hand

You don’t even want to know how many times we had to ‘pose’ to get this just right. Or how long we had to wait for random people, dogs and birds to get the heck out of the frame. But, it was a gorgeous day in the mountains, we were on vacation and in the mood to have a little fun.


BAM! By the way, I love how Dave is always promoting the Golden State. He really should profit in some way or at least get a discount on all the Colorado gear he sports.

Anyhow, after the picture was mounted and the back was jerry-rigged onto the wooden frame (edited to include a photo of aforementioned rigging as requested)… jerry rigged

…I realized I had no clue how to get it on the wall. No amount of ladder-leg maneuvering on the carpeted staircase left me comfortable enough to climb up with this monstrosity in hand. I couldn’t even manage to get up 3 rungs with the cordless drill without freaking out. I have no problems tempting fate when it comes to saw blades and fingertips but something about falling down a flight of stairs gives me pause. Especially when in my mind’s eye I could see the Little Giant tumbling down after and pinning me to the basement door. Screw it, I had to wait til Dave got home.

DIY Window Frame

So, he gets some credit for this DIY gig and I get brownie points for finally letting him assist on a project. I wonder how excited he’ll be about spending an entire weekend hanging up the rest of the wall photo collage I’ve got planned?

28 Mar

Recycled Easter Egg Dye

recycled egg dye

Typically, we celebrate Easter with after-church reservations at our favorite local restaurant. They serve up a wonderfully elaborate buffet complete with all sorts of farm animals fit for sacrificial offerings. Plus, they have my favorite beer on tap.

recycled egg dye

Recycled Egg Dye

Now, when the kid was younger we did the whole basket, fake grass and chocolate bunny thing. I have photos of him holding hands with a neighbor-girl scouting plastic treasures in the yard. Another year, we hunted hidden eggs throughout an old folk’s home. And I vaguely recall stopping along the side of the road to pose the boy on a fuzzy pink bunny’s lap outside a carpet store.  But coloring eggs? Nope, can’t say I remember doing much of that.


That doesn’t mean we didn’t, it just means there were no epic failures or fiery mishaps to register the event in my long-term memory vault. So, it’s actually a good thing. But for the sake of argument let’s assume that when we did, we went the standard colored-tablet-in-vinegar dip method. Because, that’s just how you do Easter eggs right?

Apparently not, according to Pinterest.

Have you seen all the crazy patterns and paintings choking the homepage of that site? Seriously, some people have entirely too much time on their hands. And today, I joined their ranks.

We’ve had a half carton of eggs in the fridge for a while now (expiration date: Nov 2012) and I figured it was time to throw them out. But I decided to test a theory I had first. In my last post, I shared a pocket guide for recycling coffee grounds and alluded to having another tip up my sleeve.

boil eggs in grounds

Yeppers, I boiled my leftover espresso grounds in a pan of water and added a few eggs. The water quickly turned a murky brown and I let the eggs steep for a good 30 minutes before removing the pan to cool.

Of course, I got creative during the wait time and started eyeballing everything in the pantry. Since spaghetti sauce seems to stain everything it in it’s path, I thought it would make a great component in my experiment. I watered down a can of tomato paste, popped in a couple eggs (adorned with vinyl stickers and tied up in mesh) and set the pot on the burner for another half hour.


I’m culinarily-challenged so I can’t tell you why the tomato concoction kept boiling over. I had to continually reduce the heat and could not cover the pan like I did the espresso soup. It made a complete mess of the stovetop and I don’t recommend it for an air freshener fragrance either.

When I removed the eggs from the sauce I was disappointed to see the shells only had a slight peach tinge to them.


I removed the mesh, rinsed and dried off each egg and considered ringing up Tupperware’s corporate office in Florida to pitch a new product idea.

Look. The damn things didn’t stain! (but the paper on the back of the stickers did – go figure)

tomato eggs

By now, the espresso water had cooled so those eggs went in a bowl to chill in the fridge. Since I couldn’t get the stickers peeled off without residual goo, only one of these eggs survived. I soaked it in the java sludge.

At this point, I was feeling a tad bit defeated.

I really wanted to have something pretty to practice taking pictures of. Especially since I found a few great ‘props’ at the thrift store and already prepped them for the grand finale. So I grabbed a yellow onion, peeled the outer skin off and boiled it up with the last three expired eggs. Two of them went in naked but the third I wrapped up in a larger piece of skin then tied it up in some mesh.

recycled_egg_dye And finally, I struck gold. The veins of the onion skin transferred on to the shell which turned a much lighter orange than the other two. The darker brown eggs are from the boiled-in-espresso and the dinosaur egg looking one was the tomato-fail-espresso-rescue victim.

Now, I have another memory to add to the vault. Easter 2013 – the year I spent an entire day crafting beautiful eggs that no one can eat.

Thank you Easter Bunny – bawk bawk!

28 Feb

$5.00 DIY Wall Art


Sometimes I find the hardest rooms to decorate are the ones I never use. I’m not sure what it is – lack of personal connection? Lack of interest? Lack of time? Either way, rooms like my spare bedroom, guest bath and kitchen elude me from a design standpoint.

I paid to have the house painted before we moved in and I swear the contractors took the liberty of overriding my color selections because my office and the guest bath are this odd teal-blue-green color. I have consulted my fan deck and the color does not exist. So, it was sheer luck that the hubs’ bachelor pad shower curtain matched the bathroom walls but do you think I could find decorator accents in a similar shade?

That would be a no.

Since I don’t care about use that room the walls stayed bare for well over a year. Then, I came across a huge piece of art at GoodWill a few weeks back.


This sucker measured 4′ x 4′ and was priced at $3.99. I was surprised no one had scooped it up until I realized one of the brace boards was broken. The colors were great and I was pretty sure somewhere in all those blues/greens was one that would match the bathroom. The original UPC was still in place so I looked it up online and holy buckets! it’s available on Overstock for a crazy, crazy price. For about 3.6 seconds I contemplated a quick fix for resale but the odds of finding another piece to match the bathroom were slim so my greediness had to take a backseat.


I let the boy pick the ones we’d use since it’s {mainly} his bathroom and he feels the need to have an opinion lately. With exception to one, he picked the same ones I did (we’ll chalk the wrong one up to his paternal dna). I squared-up pieces of scrap wood and used white glue to adhere the pieces of canvas. Then I brushed on some Mod Podge to seal the edges.


I wanted more dimension to the wood but didn’t want to stain or paint it. I know that you can restore nicks and scratches on wood with olive oil so I tested it out here. I poured a bit on a cotton ball and rubbed it with the grain. It enhanced the natural grain and didn’t leave a greasy film. {Just another way I misuse kitchen stuffs for DIY purposes!}


After adding some hangers to the backs, I went about utilizing my über scientific method of hanging pictures. You’ll notice the Target ad has been torn into squares the same size as the artwork. I like to tape up and move around demo pieces before committing to holes in the wall. It makes for much less clean up work later. Once I was happy with the composition I pounded nails, ripped off newspaper and hung artwork. TADA!


For some added pizzazz I added silver nailheads in a corner of each piece. Working from top left around to top right it tied the pieces together and played off the other metal accents in the room. (yes, I went back and filled in that scandalous hole left by the clock that used to hang there)


So what do you think? Not bad for under $5 right?


The next time you come across the ‘perfect’ piece for a room but think it won’t work – consider reworking it so that it will.